The Washington State House of
Representatives is expected to approve a gay marriage bill on
Wednesday, February 8.
The House Judiciary Committee approved
the measure on Monday with a 7 to 5 vote after hearing an hour's
worth of testimony from supporters and opponents. One lawmaker
abstained from voting. The Democrat-controlled panel fought off
amendments which would have put the measure up for a public vote and
expanded the bill's religious protections to include private
businesses and individuals.
The House is expected to begin debate
on the measure at 1PM. Supporters say they have the votes needed for
passage. Today's vote comes a week after the Senate approved the
bill by a wider margin than expected.
Governor Chris Gregoire introduced the
measure and has urged lawmakers to approve it.
Since 2007, Washington has recognized
gay couples with domestic partnerships. A 2009 expansion of the law
– dubbed “everything but marriage” – gave gay couples all the
protections of marriage.
Opponents of Gregoire's plan to make
Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage have vowed to
put the issue before voters in November. However, voters in 2009
rejected an effort to repeal the state's domestic partnerships.
The House vote comes a day after a
federal court declared California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8,
violation of the United States Constitution.